October 15, 2007
Mike Abitabile

The Devil’s Advocate:
The Sky Is Falling!

The October 8, 2007 edition of Monday Night Raw did a 2.8 rating (here). When the Nielsen glitch occurred back in July and Raw was told it did a 2.5, I said that a drop of that magnitude would occur over a longer period of time than just one week. Well, that period of time looks to have been about 4 months.

While the decline in the Raw rating is bad, in my mind, there is a reasonable explanation, and it’s not “WWE sucks!” There have been many injuries in the past few months which have ravaged the rosters, both Raw and Smackdown. Monday Night Football is back and always takes a piece of WWE’s Monday Night Raw rating. Raw was up against a New York Yankee playoff game (the one that eliminated them from the playoffs). On top of all that, I have personally been surprised to find out how many fans of Raw watch Heroes on Monday nights. I am a fan of the show myself, and watch it on NBC.com after Raw (but for full disclosure, I did watch the series premiere instead of that hour of Raw), but I truthfully didn’t think many wrestling fans would be Heroes fans. Finally, the whole DVR thing where you can record Raw and watch it whenever you want is probably sinking the number a little bit too. (However, I know that Nielsen is counting the DVR viewings into the number and adding it at later point in the week, I believe. I have to do some research into that).

I am sure that WWE was expecting some drop because of the absence of John Cena. They did announce he would do an interview late Monday afternoon on WWE.com, but the casual and non-diehard fans that tune in to see Cena probably didn’t hear about that. (Whether they tune in to see him win or lose is another story though). So, from that standpoint, Raw did have a loss of viewers from the week before, when it was in the low 3’s, a 3.2. However, in the larger scheme of things, such as the fact that Raw routinely did upper 3’s and lower 4’s up until recent months, the numbers are not good.

There have even been reports that USA Network is upset and might not renew WWE programming when the contract comes up in April (here). I hate to rain on everyone’s “I Love When WWE Fails” parade, but that is not going to happen. Could they be forced to re-sign for less? Maybe. But they aren’t in danger of being “cancelled.” USA Network must see all the things I pointed out above, since they know the television business and aren’t just sitting around a computer waiting for WWE to make mistakes, like some people I know. I am sure they want WWE to turn a corner, but I don’t think “cancelled” is a word that has been used by them yet. Just a gut feeling.

WWE, for their part, has tried to drum up interest. Say what you want about the decisions made at No Mercy, because I know a lot of “smart” fans didn’t like that Triple H was the focal point of the show, but guess what. The live crowd loved it. And, on top of that, I’ve heard from a few people who also loved it. When the live crowd loves something, the smarts really don’t have a leg to stand on in my book. You are entitled to your opinion, just like I am mine, but they like to pretend their opinion is shared by everyone. Obviously that opinion isn’t when the live crowd goes nuts for Triple H.

He’s not my favorite guy, and I am sure he uses politics to his advantage, but really, what would you have done? Hotshot the Jericho return for a one night pop? Aren’t the smarts the ones always talking about long-term booking and not short-term gains? The fact is, Triple H was the number one face on the roster and was an obvious choice to plug into the program.

And, by the way, I say he “was” the number one face because Shawn Michaels is back. This was another move WWE made to try and right some wrongs, having him surprise Randy Orton at the end of Raw when, surprise, there was no Triple H. That seemed to make a lot of people happy.

So calm down, Chicken Little. You’ll live, the WWE will live and everything will be okay. In the words of Mickey Glass, “The sun will always rise. This too, shall pass....”

Feedback is always welcome at figurefanatic@gmail.com or you can visit my blog here.

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